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This year’s shortlist for the Royal Society of Biology’s (RSB) School Biology Teacher of the Year Award has been announced, with the 2024 cohort featuring teachers from Hertfordshire, London, and Merseyside.

Three headshots of teachers side by side

The Award recognises the UK’s leading secondary school biology teachers who are at the forefront of paving the way in teaching excellence, acknowledging their vital role in educating and inspiring the next generation of biologists.

The 2024 shortlisted teachers are:

  • Dr Ali Bune, Subject Leader for Biology and whole school Literacy Coordinator, Bishop’s Hatfield Girls’ School, Hatfield (Hertfordshire)
  • Thandiwe Banda, Lead Practitioner A Level Biology/Head of STEAM, Cheam High School, Sutton (London)
  • Christina Little, Assistant Head/Science Teacher, The Mosslands School, Wirral (Merseyside)

For Ali, the key to engaging students in biology is enthusiasm. Celebrating Biology Week through a much-loved circus activity ‘Plague, Pox & Pathogens’, Ali encourages colleagues to get into character by dressing as the plague doctor or a milkmaid, with others moving as characters around classes demonstrating aspects of disease related to the history of disease control (with GCSEs in mind). Students have also had the opportunity to create mascara and dissect eyes to look at light refraction through the eye’s lens.

“I am deeply honoured to be shortlisted for this award. It’s thanks to my school’s supportive ethos and our students’ willingness to engage in all things ‘biology’.”

Ali endeavours to inject fun into topics using surprising ways of illustrating concepts and processes, often by linking with other subjects and running extracurricular events. 

Thandiwe focuses her efforts on building relationships with her students, showcasing her passion for biology, and inspiring them through practical, creative, and theoretical assignments.

“I am honoured to have been shortlisted and humbled that I was even considered! Connecting with students is about finding the key drivers to their personal success and how you, as their teacher and role model, can make biology, learning in general, and their journey at school a memorable one. My students make me a better teacher every day and make my role so rewarding.”

Thandiwe uses storytelling and replicating famous experiments to challenge and enrich her students’ education, as well as getting them to participate in spelling bees, BioArtAttack competitions, MiSAC microbiology competitions, and Biology Olympiad. For Thandiwe, providing insights into current research and career links to what her lessons cover is also paramount.

Christina believes that every student, regardless of their starting point, can and will grasp fundamental biological processes. She empowers students to become educators in their own right, using sequence rehearsing and the use of abstract images to simplify complex processes.

“I am profoundly humbled and honoured to receive a nomination for such a prestigious award. It is overwhelming to know that my Head of department and esteemed peers have taken the time to give such careful consideration to the contribution I make to our department and to the wider school community. I am incredibly proud to work with such adaptable learners and keen, conscientious scientists.”

Christina works to dismantle perceived barriers to learning, nurturing resilience, and a growth mindset among her students. She cultivates a high-challenge environment encouraging teamwork, which enables the students to develop confidence in their abilities and improve their self-esteem.

The three shortlisted teachers will now each submit a case study explaining the methods they employ to enhance their students’ learning. The Award’s judging panel will also visit each teacher and observe them teaching a lesson.

The winner will be announced on 24 July 2024 and will receive £500 for themselves and £500 of school resources, both of which are provided by Oxford University Press.